Welcome to Grant Central! That’s the name that Riche and her family have chosen for their home. With all they’ve got going on, it’s a fitting name. Riche is one of those people who is a serial entrepreneur — she’s been a clothing designer, a blogger, a YouTuber and so much more. And looking at these photos you can get a sense of the creative energy that abounds in her home. Plus, she was kind enough to give us a realistic peek at what quarantine has looked like for her and her family. Welcome, Riche.
Hi, I’m Riche (pronounced “Ri-chee” thanks to my parents!), an entrepreneur, designer and lifestyle content creator. I’m a lawyer licensed to practice law in New York and Maryland too, but only the fun stuff!
I live at Grant Central (the name we lovingly gave to our home after NYC’s Grand Central Terminal) with my husband, Cedric, a lobbyist, my daughter, Riley (7), and my dad, Ron, who came to live with us two years ago after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia.
Cedric and I met in Washington, DC in 2006 via Match.com, long before “swipe left or right” was a thing! Our first date was over a brunch in a beautiful restaurant that overlooks the water, two days after we met on Match and two days before my subscription ended. Talk about perfect timing!
Fun facts: Cedric and I both attended Columbia University, but at different times, his two good friends from grad school married two women in my law school class, and I attended the church where his dad pastored while I lived in New York, but I never knew that Cedric existed! It was the best first date I’d ever had, and by the time we’d had our second (two days later!), I knew that I never wanted it to end. We got married in Baltimore, Maryland in 2008.
We had our daughter, Riley, in 2012. She’s caring, witty, stylish, bold, outgoing and so many other things that I wish I was when her age. On social media, she has evolved from #ToddlerBoss to #Miniboss, growing out of the baby and mommy accessories company that we started after she was born (BambiniWare) and into her own as a social media influencer who’s worked with brands such as St. Jude, Subaru, sweetgreen, LOL Surprise Dolls, Poopsie Slime Surprise, morgan & milo shoes, and more.
Until recently, I had no idea that I’m part of what’s called the “sandwich generation,” those Gen Xers who are balancing the dueling roles of being caregivers to both young children and aging parents at the same time. When we discovered that my dad was no longer able to live on his own, Cedric and I had a long conversation about him coming to live with us.
We definitely had the physical space, but truthfully speaking, I can’t say that I fully understood the extent of the mental space that I would need to become his primary caregiver once my mom moved to LA to help my sister with her new baby. I’m constantly praying for patience (especially in the midst of a pandemic!), but at the same time, I’m so grateful that Cedric, Riley and I were in a position to welcome my dad into our home.
We live in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a suburb outside of Washington, DC. Although I grew up here, I had no intention of moving back after law school, but in the winter of my third year, I came home to visit my grandfather, who was very sick. When I told him that I would be graduating from law school in the spring, he told me that he wanted me to take a break after graduating, sit on my parents’ back porch for six months and then decide what I really wanted to do with my life. He died two weeks later and that was the last conversation we ever had.
After I took the New York bar exam, I decided that I was going to follow my grandfather’s advice and move back. It was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life, but also one of the scariest too. Yet, in the midst of my fears, it was also one of the most liberating things that I could have done for myself.
It was here that I started my first business (a test prep, tutoring and admissions company in 2003) and where I decided that I wanted Riley to spend her formative years too after discovering an amazing homeschool collective that was founded by one of my former master math tutors and a fellow Brown University alum.
One of the things that I love about where we live is the family-friendly, community-oriented spirit of our neighbors. In lieu of a birthday party last year, Riley decided to expand her lemonade stand into a pop-up shop with more offerings, and so many of our neighbors came out to support her! And last Thanksgiving, I threw out an idea about doing a Black Friday 5K on our community Facebook page, and two weeks later, we had over 75 participants, sponsors, food, drinks, a DJ, prizes and more.
And now, during the quarantine, I’m part of a committee that organizes 3-4 birthday parades each week for children (and elders!) who can’t have birthday parties due to social distancing guidelines. Riley contributes by serving as the official photographer, honing her skills with the camera that we bought for her when we discovered that she has a good eye for capturing images.
I swear by vision boards, so before we started our home search, I spent quite a bit of time finding images of the rooms that I wanted — everything from a bright and airy kitchen, to an upstairs office where I could work, to a downstairs craft studio where I could create. Of course I wanted it to happen, but when we stumbled across a floor plan that had exactly what I envisioned (including a great yard and scenic views of a golf course!), it was almost too good to be true.
Now, when I do vision board workshops, I pin actual photos of the rooms in our house over the ones that I put on my vision board to show just how powerful vision boards can be in manifesting even your wildest dreams.
Our house was a new construction, built in 2016, so we were able to select all of the major details, which was both exciting and daunting at the same time. The kitchen is where we spend most of our time as a family, so it was important to me that we designed it to be exactly what we wanted, both aesthetically and functionally.
My favorite feature is the large island, which functions as prep space, dining space, homework space, and filming space for my web series. The kitchen goes through a lot of different phases during the day, especially now that we’re here all day together, but at the end of the day, we all spend time cleaning it up so that we can start the next day with a fresh slate.
My favorite room in the house is the craft studio in the basement that I share with Riley. It gives me the creative space I need to work on new projects and gives me great Mommy + Me with Riley that we both treasure. It’s another room that I use a lot to film my web series too!
We dedicated half of the basement to Riley’s playroom, which is a space where we let her roam free. We promised her that she could have a playhouse before we moved in, so one of the first additions to the room was her geodome playhouse by Land of Nod (now Crate & Kids). It also features a giant world map and college pennants that used to hang in my tutoring center, and artistic renderings of Riley in her homemade Halloween costumes that went viral (for two years in a row, she was Misty Copeland, the first African-American ABT prima ballerina).
We took our time getting used to our space before we furnished each of the other rooms — probably about a year. We’re still not finished, but we’re enjoying the process of only adding pieces to our collection that we absolutely love. My husband actually loves shopping for furniture (way more than I do!), so that makes things a lot easier.
Initially, I worried that the house wouldn’t feel cohesive because each room ended up having its own personality, but that’s actually what I’ve come to love about it. We have a bright and airy living room inspired by one of our favorite homes on Martha’s Vineyard, and a rustic chic family room with nods to our African heritage, and it’s still all a beautiful reflection of our family’s style.
I went paint crazy in our DC condo, so this time around, I’ve been way more conservative, sticking with the off-white walls that came with the house until I fall in love with a timeless palette that I won’t regret later!
I’d been blogging for a few years, both on my own blog and contributing to sites like MarthaStewart.com when I decided that I wanted to change things up a bit with my content. I hadn’t thought about transitioning to web series until three different people who came to Riley’s birthday party at the house suggested that I start doing videos because I had great spaces for filming.
Up to that point, I had no idea where the record button was on my camera, but there was something about those conversations that stayed with me. Three weeks later, with zero experience and a very small budget, I filmed my first episode of “The Riche Life” in November 2017. I never would’ve imagined that a year after we moved into our home, that it would double as my film studio, but here I am, and I can’t even remember what it was like before!
The show is all about inspiring other women to lead happy, fulfilling, perfectly-imperfect lives, defined on their own terms. It’s a mash-up of everything I do in my roles as a mom, wife, entrepreneur, designer, creator, home chef, educator, and all of the other beautiful things in my life that make me rich (pun totally intended!).
For so long, I thought everything had to fit in its own little neat box when it came to my life, my career and my family. It wasn’t until I had Riley that I realized that living my richest life meant getting rid of the boxes. Everything in my life is so beautifully connected now and I’m the happiest that I’ve ever been.
It’s through this lens of organic connectivity that I draw from all of the different facets of my career and my everyday life as a wife and mom to produce content for the show. From designing a fabulous tablescape, to creating a vision board, to making DIY family-friendly cleaning products or whipping up an easy meal that looks and tastes great, it’s all there at #TheRicheLife.
It’s the most I’ve ever revealed of myself, and that’s a little scary, but at the same time, it’s a beautiful thing to be inspired from within.
Before the pandemic, I would get up an hour or so before everyone else to have my quiet prayer time, fix breakfast and lunch, get Riley ready, drop Riley off at school (often taking my dad with me), go to a cycling class at the gym, take care of any errands, and then come back and work from home for the rest of the day until pick-up time.
Now, instead of dropping Riley off, I send her to Cedric’s office (which she has taken over!) to do live on-line classes with her teachers. While she’s in class, I try to squeeze in work, but the reality is that I’m often interrupted or distracted by something that I need to do around the house. More often than not, I feel like I’m in an endless rotation of cooking, cleaning and laundry, which is why I try my best to get a little self-care time too (even just 15 minutes feels good) when I can because I’ve definitely earned it and then some!
At the beginning of the quarantine, I was determined to be super productive, reading all of the books that I’ve been putting off, taking all of the on-line classes that I never finished, finally started a real garden, catching all of the cool Instagram lives from my favorite celebs, but, honestly, it started to be too much to manage on top of everything else that I was trying to juggle. So, I stopped creating ridiculous expectations for what I thought I should be doing and started to enjoy being more present. I started building LEGOs again, which has been surprisingly very calming for me. It’s the little things (pun totally intended!)
I suffer from migraines, so exercise is really important to keeping them at bay. I still try to get cycling classes in when I can on the Peloton, but since Riley learned how to ride her bike during the first week of the quarantine, one of our new favorite family activities is going on long bike rides (our current record is 16 miles!)
As an entrepreneur for over 10 years by the time Riley was born, even if I wasn’t actively working, there was never really a time when I wasn’t at least thinking about work, even during vacations. And even though all I should have been doing was basking in the glow of motherhood after Riley was born, I nearly drove myself crazy thinking about how I was going to manage raising a child and running a business at the same time.
After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that the two were not mutually exclusive. My focus shifted from trying to fit Riley into my previous work life as I knew it, to creating a new model based on what would work best for her.
The biggest leap was when I decided that I really wanted to explore more of my creative side by designing my own line of baby and mommy accessories patterned after my own experiences as a new mom.
I worked in my basement while Riley was asleep, creating prototypes using materials that I found around the house and drafting technical drawings using the skills that I acquired as an engineering major in high school. When Riley woke up, I would use her as my fit model. I officially launched my second company, BambiniWare in 2013 on Riley’s first birthday.
Since then, one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned about being a working parent who works from home is to try as best as you can to separate work and family time. As a rule, I try to get my work done while Riley is at school. The weekends were typically the only family time that we had together pre-pandemic, so I try to keep my work limited to weekdays too. That way, Riley and Cedric don’t feel like they’re missing out on my attention and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on my work.
It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s definitely helped me become more efficient with my time over the years.
I love that we’ve been able to create a space that really reflects who we are, but now that we’re ALL in the house ALL day, the one thing that I do wish was different about the house is that it wasn’t so open. I used to absolutely love the open floor plan feature, but when so much is going in the house, it can be a little overwhelming to say the least!
What I hope that Riley remembers most about this home is how she had the freedom to carve out spaces for herself around the house, and how as her parents, we encouraged her to be part of our workspaces too. I also hope she remembers how special we made holidays here. She’s grown to share my love of tablescaping and entertaining (she hosted her first vegan Friendsgiving dinner last year!), and I can’t wait to see how she incorporates all of this into her own home one day.
On the flipside, I hope that she totally forgets about the times that I paid too much attention to things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of life, like whether a meal that I made wasn’t great or an episode of my show that I worked really hard on didn’t do as well as I expected.
Spending this much time with Riley every day has helped me see how independent that she’s become before my very eyes. I’m so happy to see her growing, but at the same time, I miss many of the things that I took granted when she depended on me for everything. One way that I’ve adapted to her new sense of independence though is by raising my expectations of her, which I think has really surprised both of us. Instead of assuming that she can’t do something on her own, I’ve been challenging her to try new things. So far, so good!
My absolute favorite thing about living with Riley has been creating with her. Whether it was starting BambiniWare when she was a baby, cooking together when she was toddler, designing holiday tablescapes or filming episodes of #TheRicheLife in recent years, she’s been an amazing collaborator who’s made everything that we’ve done together way more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. And, as much as it’s made sleeping terribly uncomfortable for way more nights than I care to remember over the years, I already miss co-sleeping. The snuggle is real.
I wish someone had told me years ago to stop trying to prove myself to other people. Just before my third year of law school, I learned that I would not be getting a permanent offer from the firm where I worked during the previous summer. It turned out to be the best thing that never happened to me, but at the time I was devastated. And then, two days later, September 11th happened while I was living in New York City. My whole perspective on what I wanted my work life to look like changed forever.
After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, like the three generations of my family before me. Yet even though I was happy being my own boss, in the back of my mind, I always felt like I had something to prove, that I wasn’t a failure because I didn’t get the one job that everyone else expected me to have. I spent so many years trying to prove myself to others that it was exhausting. It took me 18 years to finally get over it.
If I’d listened to the advice that I wish I had, I would’ve started by stripping away all of the societal expectations of me and spent a lot of time thinking about who I really am at my core and what I really wanted my whole life (not just my work life) to look like much earlier.
I would’ve made a conscious decision much earlier too that I only wanted to dedicate my (non-obligatory) time and energy to doing things that are fun for me, things that really excite my spirit and make me genuinely happy. It seems like a simple thing, but so many of us end up miserable because we don’t make our happiness a priority when we have the choice. Turns out, it really works.
Thank you, Riche! I love that you can really feel the creative energy in this home. There are beautiful grown up spaces and then the office/craft room where you can tell that the room is designed to get messy, get creative and get things done. I love seeing the vision boards around those rooms and how Riche was able to manifest this home by creating a vision of what she wanted.
I also related so much to what Riche said about thinking that quarantine was going to be a time to catch up on reading and podcasts and great films and everything and instead it turns out that sometimes all you can do is get through the day. That is so relatable. And it must be even more complicated to be taking care of a younger child (and all of the schoolwork and everything that entails) and taking care of an aging parent at the same time. Hats off to Riche and her family for getting it all done, and for their great, positive perspective.
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.